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Homegrown heroes bring students and community together

Issue: Volume 97, Number 14

Posted: 09:00am, 13 Aug 2018
Reference #: 1H9jwm

Rangikura School is the latest to join the Homework Help Club movement, an after-school initiative to increase community engagement in promoting the social, emotional and academic growth of students.

Mafi Otukolo and Reegan Thomas are members of Rangikura School’s Homework Help C

Mafi Otukolo and Reegan Thomas are members of Rangikura School’s Homework Help Club.

Each week, around 40 Porirua students do their homework with the help of volunteers from the Financial Markets Authority (FMA). Teachers, parents and whānau also provide assistance as part of the group, which the school has dubbed ‘Homegrown heroes’.

Rangikura School Club Coordinator Ondine Souter says the students drive the teaching and learning at the sessions.

“We really wanted to make learning authentic for our kids, so the whole philosophy is that learning is not just between 9 and 3,” she says.

“The kids will come with work that they want to do and something they want to find out. It could be part of their inquiry learning that they’re doing in class or some work they need to finish or part of a passion project that they’re working on, but what we don’t want is worksheets.”

The club has been popular with students, as shown by the increasing number of attendees. This is because students feel supported and valued by the volunteers and whānau who come to help, Ondine says

“The volunteers come in and they dedicate an hour to those kids and so they’ve got an adult helping them with whatever they’ve brought that week to be doing and I think they really enjoy that. We talk about gifting oral language and these guys are gifting their time and language to the kids to support them.”

Students Louise (left) and Rebekah Otukolo listen as volunteer Pip Bowler reads

Students Louise (left) and Rebekah Otukolo listen as volunteer Pip Bowler reads aloud.

FMA Senior Solicitor Rachael Manttan says the volunteer team also enjoys working with students and helping them gain confidence. The help they provide varies depending on each student’s needs.

“Some of them would like to have help reading out loud to you, so they’ll bring along a book and sit with one of our volunteers and read out loud, either by themselves or in a small group. Some of them want help with particular inquiry-based projects they’re working on for their homework.

“Sometimes it’s even just talking about current events and encouraging kids to use their conversational skills and talking through ideas as opposed to casual conversation.”

Ondine encourages any school considering a similar initiative to give it a go and says the process was a lot easier than she expected.

“The volunteers are amazing, the kids love them and they all work so hard.”

Visit the homework help club(external link) website or email homework@whodidyouhelptoday.org for information on setting up a homework help club at your school. 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

The Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero is produced by NZME for the Ministry of Education for teachers, leaders, and other education professionals working in New Zealand.

Posted: 09:08am, 13 August 2018

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